New plans from Discovery Communications

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LONDON -- Discovery Communications Inc and BBC Worldwide Ltd have announced launch plans for new channels in Europe and Latin America that will be put into action when their joint venture is finalized, expected within 60 days.

Animal Planet is scheduled to launch in northern Europe on July 1 this year; it will also launch, along with another non-fiction channel featuring documentaries of cultural and historical interest, in Latin America on October 6. The 24-hour "all animals, all the time" Animal Planet debuted in the U.S. in 1996, where DCI claims it is a great success as one of the fastest growing channels in the U.S. cable and satellite market, reaching 20 million subscribing households.

"These date-certain channel launches in Europe and Latin America are significant steps as we continue to assemble the many diverse elements of our far- reaching joint venture with the BBC," says Judith McHale, president and chief operating officer of DCI. "We believe that our combined programming assets, together with our brand strengths among consumers, will make our services extremely attractive to cable and satellite distributors." Says Dick Emery, chief operating officer of BBC Worldwide: "Our involvement in these channels will, on the completion, mark the start of an exciting and powerful global relationship."

The new channels will be programmed and distributed, in collaboration with the BBC, from DCI's London office and the company's Latin American television center in Miami for the respective European and Latin American markets.

Separately, Bethesda, Maryland-based DCI plans to license its Discovery Channel brand, the history, science & technology and human adventure programming for families, for use on consumer products. The company will reveal details of its licensing program and begin marketing it to potential partners at this year's Licensing Expo in New York. The initiative will be led by Robin Sayetta, vice president, licensing at Discovery Enterprises Worldwide.

"As one of four core business units of DCI, DEW's mission is to extend the Discovery experience beyond the television screen and leverage new opportunities to create new customers so that wherever people are spending their leisure time and no matter what the platform or the environment, Discovery is there - capturing share of mind and creating an overall, comprehensive Discovery experience," says Michela English, president of DEW. "Our challenge is to ensure that Discovery is found on playroom floors, on kitchen tables, on family outings and other outlets where people share information."

Discovery Channel claims to reach over 100 million households worldwide. DCI is privately-owned by: Liberty Media Corporation, a division of Tele- Communications Inc; Cox Communications; Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, founder, chairman and CEO of the company.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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